“Ceremonies” may sound superfluous, but believe me, they are anything but in the Agile world. I’ve been reminded several times just this week about how important the Agile ceremonies are to moving the actual work along.
- If you have no Backlog Refinement Meeting, your implementation team doesn’t have the proper prioritization for the next set of items you want them to build. Nor have they had enough time (painful as it may be) to ask questions, work out the acceptance criteria, and assign tasks to get the work done.
- Foregoing the Sprint Commitment ceremony (as you can tell, I am not a big fan of kanban the way it is often practiced in Agile shops), means you never have a body of work to aim to complete. If the work gets done, fine. If not, velocity just declines. Why do the favorite items always have a way of floating to the top? There should always be a solid, achievable goal to attain with a projected point total for each sprint. Stretch goals, if any, can be placed at the top of the backlog list in waiting for a developer who happens to have some extra time.
- Missing the daily SCRUM means we don’t trust or respect each other enough to report where we are in progress, and ask for help if needed. Moving those sticky notes along to “done” helps keep ourselves accountable to each other as team members.
- Without a Sprint Review Meeting, team members don’t have the experience of personally showing off their work, and they miss an opportunity to interact with stakeholders who are funding and supporting development. Every piece of work that is complete should be demonstrated with Q&A, no exceptions.
- Finally, skipping a Post Mortem on each sprint, we don’t bother to tweak how we communicate or interact, and the culture will suffer.
Getting back to first principles, and honoring these agile ceremonies, gets us back to safety in the way we are handling our investment.